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Tour de France
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delighted to have clotilde's imprimatur and this opportunity to speak in ways that governments aren't always able to.
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Politics ---

Let me give a couple of recent items about my compatriots which really disappointed me.

- the attack on John Kerry's military record and his subsequent campaign against the war in Viet Nam, started by the Swift-Boat veterans.

- the current and past attacking of Hillary Clinton, mostly among older, males.

John Kerry served his country in Viet Nam. He saw things there which he didn't like. He raised these issues in Congress to try and put an end to the war. He was 22 years old. I see no problem with this. Yet, last year he was pilloried by many. His values were questioned, etc. Terrible.

Hillary Clinton is a successful, smart, lawyer, and Congresswoman. She wanted to bring health care to all Americans. Great. Yet, this woman is attacked by so many. Something I attribute to envy. Mostly this comes from men older than 50. Do they see her as a threat?

These two issues show me bad signs. I know the majority of people don't condemn Kerry and Clinton for these things, but that fact that a significant group does is disappointing.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel that "nicknames" no matter how innocently meant are things best kept to ourselves. I know my Irish grandfather did not appreciate being called a Mick. In our country alone there have been struggles for respect between races and cultures, in using these slang terms we are turning back time, encouraging lables and intolerance.
Also to generalize that the French do not like Americans is ludacris. Clotilde is French and has lived in the USA, if she hated us I don't think she would have come. I have many friends that are in France or have immagrated from France as far as I know they don't hate me. My first kiss was at a Papal Mass in Denver with a guy from Lyon, and I can safely say he was pretty happy about it.
I am off on a tangent I know but I hate being put in a box, so when I see it happening to others I get a little fiesty.

Equality and Civil Rights will always be a struggle we need to be vigilant and do our part.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin's first kiss was at a Papal Mass!!!!!! Gotta love Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy it Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes David , My grandmother tells me I started down the road to hell at a young age. Hee,hee! If she only knew.
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The French haven't liked us since they lost the colonies back in 1765. The Colonists occupied the east, the French occupied the west from Canada down through the Ohio Valley and along the Mississsippi.

But, around 1755 the French decided they wanted the East as well. So some French troops along with some Indians marched east. The Colonists sent George Washington. He tried to halt them in Pittsburgh. But he failed. The next year the Colonists sent another general to stop the French and he also failed. Finally, the British stepped in and sent their own troops to stop them.

It took nine years of fighting, but with the help of the Brits, the French and Indians were defeted and the size of the Colonies increased by a factor of four.

So if the French liked Americans, why did they invade us? Remember also they didn't let Ronald Reagan fly military bombers over France during the attact on Kadafi back in 1986. And we all know the recent history with W and the Iraq War and the American Congress passing laws changing the names of French fries and other silliness.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But wasn't France also instrumental in supporting the Colonies against the English during your war for independence? Lafayette comes to mind, and Franklin in Paris around that time. Forgive me my grasp of US history is shaky at best.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So are you really saying that every single French person hates Americans? That is a crude generalization. I don't care what history facts you provide French people are the same as everyone else on the planet, they all have likes and dislikes that do not coincide with every other person. Do the French have some national policy that says "We hate the Americans?" I really don't think so. People are all different, in taste appearance and demenor, a great deal of understanding is needed.

Just because the French do not bend to the will of the USA does not mean it is out of spite. They are a people who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe and will not be bullied. That does not mean they hate us. Do you hate the British? Remember the Revolution? How about the War of 1812? Great Britian is our strongest ally, but by your historical account we should hate them, or them us. I am really not sure there is so much hating going around I find it easier to accept everyone and try to understand everyone.
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Sarape



Joined: 15 Dec 2004
Posts: 583
Location: Anniston Alabama USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erin wrote:
So are you really saying that every single French person hates Americans?


Not all of them. Clotilde must like some Americans. She's offered to set up a fund where Chocolate & Zucchini members can donate funds for Send Sarape to Charm School .

Yea David, Lafayette was on George Washington's staff during the Revolutionay War. The Brits impossed the Stamp Tax on the Colonies to help pay for the war against the French and Indians. The Colonists didn't like that, so we didn't pay. Then the Brits started making us pay a tax on imports and so we dumped their tea. And then came the Boston Massacre where a British sentry killed a few Colonists. And that led to the war.

Am I going to have to start adding emoticons and smileys so everyone knows I'm joking? Confused
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no idea how many Americans ever actually encounter a French person so I always wonder where the rancor comes from. It might be that sorta "inherited" mythological animus that's so destructive. Certainly our insularity and need to feel "superior" factors in. And it might be juvenile, insecure and arrogant behavior like that embarrassing "Freedom Fries" nonsense too.

My own experience in France is extremely limited. ...much too limited! I spent 3 months there after college an eternity ago. We lived in a very tiny farm community. Because we were les americains and lived on the sheep farm that furnished the local soccer field, everyone knew us. And looked after us.

In spite of my very poor French (and I was one of only 3 who had any French at all) I came to know the profound kindness of these lovely people. They helped us put our decrepit Deux Cheveaux back together time and time again with rubber bands (the seats) and wire (the spark plugs), they advised us where to get the best wine at the best price, they brought us firewood when it got cold (I mean COLD) because we were too naive to realize that there wasn't any such thing as central heating in that rural area, they shared their sense of awe about America — yes, it was awe and reverence!

You couldn't miss it if you spent some time there. ...and took the time to listen. It was evident in the tiny American cemeteries that held 6 or 10 markers and were surrounded by stone walls. There were lots of them. Each was 20 years or more old by that time but still immaculately tended. There were always some red geraniums in evidence. I don't know who was remembering them and taking care of them but I'm guessing it was not the American families who were 3,000 miles away or more. It was evident in the local shops where people patiently tried to understand our needs and teach us un peu de français. It was evident in the way we (American hippy kids) were treated when we lunched in the local cafe. Service was always warm and I can remember a time when we showed up at what would have been family lunch time (a very sacred time in the day). The patron, Léonel, made us some of his fabulous rillettes, poured us some drinks, apologized profusely and excused himself to join his family upstairs. He apologized to us that he wasn't being an adequate host and then left us long-haired, "foreigner" young people alone in his establishment with his cash register, his bar and everything he depended on to make his living and take care of his family thinking only of us! That's why, given the opportunity to make conversation with a French person or one of the Americans who would overhear us speaking English in a cafe and descend on us in Paris (as tho they wouldn't have pilloried us in the US), we'd always choose the company of our French friends.

I saw the same kindness when I (3 months pregnant at the time) began to spot. They opened the hospital for me — again during family lunch. The doctor had to be summoned from his home. We struggled, he and I, to communicate in vocabulary that wasn't in my high school French curriculum or in his limited English to determine what was happening. It was scary but he could feel the fetus and after some tense hours said that I'd be better served by the American hospital 70K away in Paris if there was a recurrence. They'd understand me better there when there was so much critical information that depended on a common language. And then he sent me home. ...without accepting anything for his services or his inconvenience — because he said that even though he was just a boy, he remembered what American doctors had done for Frenchmen during the war and it was his pleasure to return the kindness.

That's what we've pissed away!

So I regard the my-grandfather-told-my-father rationales or selective episodes from history through the filter of my own experience. I don't like stereotypes. Never have. In the brilliant book that ChicagoBear was kind enough to send me the hero's father tells him that stealing is the only real crime because every other crime can be reduced to stealing. He says that when you tell a lie (and I think a stereotype is a stupid, cruel kind of lie) you steal the truth from the listener. ...and I am fortunate enough to have my own personal piece of the truth. It's precious to me as all the truth I am able to gather is. The rest is human frailty, eccentricity and simple misunderstanding and it's about time some people (and I am speaking of Americans generally and as appropriate) got the **** over it.
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautiful.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If there was an award for best post of the month I'd be nominating Rainey. Really beautiful writing Rainey, right from the heart. thank you!
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le_gredin



Joined: 21 Jun 2005
Posts: 8
Location: Washington, DC USA

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 8:22 pm    Post subject: Tour de France Reply with quote

Well stated, Rainey. Your experience mirrors mine.

One thing stands out in my experience. My wonderful college French teacher in the 60s told us that we should not bother to lean the "tu" form or conjugations because we would never know a French person well enough to use it! But today, I have many friends in France, and our realtionships are incredibly close, including use of the tu-toi form of address. So in nearly forty years some things have changed a lot, though I suspect that the older behavior patterns continue in the cultural myths of our time.

One thing that seems to typify the clash of cultures is the formality with which the French sill treat people, including each other. Many Americans perceive it as arrogance. That is not fair however. My perception is that it is as much about the French person's ownl cultural poise as about how they view others. It just reminds me of what my parents taught me about being restained but polite to people whom you meet for the first time. I think the French are more restrained than that, but it is only a matter of degree.

When it really matters, as in the wonderful tales told by Rainey, the French are there for you. I recall a story told by a French friend recently. A neighbor of theirs in the Loire Valley operated their home as a B&B from time to time in the summers. An American couple that were staying there was returning from dinner in a nearby town late one night and was involved in a serious automoble accident. The "innkeeper" and her husband met them at the hospital and acted as family for several days until the injured couple's family could get there. I have heard of other experiences of similar generosity.

The other big conflict, in my opinion, between US and French culture is as to intellectualism. In France (except perhaps among the agriculteurs), there is a certain glorification of the intellectual. An icon of this notion is the Left Bank philosopher who thinks, dresses and behaves differently. French people will latch onto au courant intellectual and behavioral leadership until it becomes passe. Then they move on to the next such cultural fad.

In the US, on the other hand, there is a prominent strain of anti-intellectualism. People here are, for the most part, more interested in the practical than the philosophical. It is perhaps one of our strengths. But it if fundamentally at odds with the attitude of the French on this subject.

People from the US, however, at some level value the creativity that comes from the attachment of the French to ideas. The French style counts for a lot in many sectors of our culture -- witness this very blog/listserve. Clotilde's creativeness is an archtype of that culture, and she obviously is acting as a fine ambassador of that culture. And obviously we all appreciate its value!
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simona



Joined: 11 Mar 2005
Posts: 696
Location: israel

PostPosted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was a very interesting conversation, especially for non-americans like me.
But I believe that there are two levels in approaching the issue of liking/not liking : the personal and the general ( national). Most of the examples given ( regarding the french/american relationships) are on the personal level, and therefore positive ( or may be sometimes negative) depending on the given situation, personality, context etc. Private americans/french don't hate each other. It's on the national collective level that the animosity appears, and it's linked to Historical and present polical circumstances ( therefore very fluid and opportunistic). So the same french/american, german/ french , etc ( or any other nationality) will embrace the anti-feelings in times of stress/war/danger/political dispute. It's only natural. I am a jew and an Israeli, some kind of a Pariah in the political understanding today: but I rarely encountered any personal animosity, and G. knows we are hated for the last 2000 years. Sometimes I'm even astonished at low-voiced sympathy, because it's so politically incorrect to even slightly understand our position. Peace is not a state of LOVE between different nations/persons, is a state of non war reached by mutual respect of each others right to be different.

No more war, more respect
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Lakritz



Joined: 07 Jun 2005
Posts: 120
Location: Birmingham, UK (via Essen, Germany)

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2005 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn’t think I was going to add any more comments to this particular thread as it became more and more obvious to me that we are not only dealing with a ‘linguistic minefield’ (Rainey’s expression) but also with different sensibilities (or should that be ‘pain threshold’?).

But as it has been ‘revived’...

I loved the personal stories, and in many, many ways, I thoroughly believe in the paramount importance of a shift towards exploring and emphasizing what connects us instead of what divides us (on a global scale, that is), which of course includes emphasizing the numerous examples of kindness as opposed to the prevalent almost exclusive concentration on the inhumanity of humankind.

BUT as I personally feel this would be a great forum for explorative discussions (my expression), I’d consider it a lost opportunity if we’d use it solely as a platform for a mutual appreciation society.

So, thank you Simona, for drawing the attention again to the vital distinction between talking about an abstract concept on the one hand (like ‘the Americans’, ‘the French’ – where generalisations have to be used as a matter of necessity – ), and individuals on the other hand. If we want to benefit from an exchange of opinions, then a certain amount of academic rigour is asked for.

For a discussion to be truly explorative, there has to be another factor, let me call it ‘striking the balance between respect and frankness’.

So, while I’m glad that my attention has been drawn to the fact that Americans are (!generalisation coming up!):
- more sensitive and may feel more easily hurt by a particular statement, and/or
- they don’t share/understand/tolerate a particular strand of humour, and/or
- they don’t share/understand/tolerate the European concept of political debate,

I’m also left with a conundrum. If I have to tread on eggshells and cannot mention what I believe is the case/have experienced - for fear of offending someone, then I don’t actually create a situation of mutual respect. Not in my definition anyway.

Quite on the contrary – it either forces me to conclude that I’d better talk recipes only (i.e.: ‘Can’t take this person seriously enough in terms of political debate’), or it turns me into a hypocrite by censoring my thoughts, albeit with an inward ‘benevolent’ smile – the type usually reserved for children who are (bless their little cotton socks!) too young to understand.

In my definition – and I’d like to think most Continental Europeans would see it similarly – it is exactly when you have a ‘no holds barred ’ discussion that you show the utmost respect, namely by intrinsically indicating that you think the other person a worthy opponent, an equal sparring partner (‘communication is only possible between equals’, ehm, Paul Watzalawick, I think, who – OMG – happens to be American; Theoretician in Communicative Theory).
Note: Continental Europeans – the Brits (!generalisation coming up!) don’t understand this, they’d rather ‘agree to disagree’ with each other than be open and direct (with the possible option of turning around to bitch about your views in a different circle of friends).

Now, while I fancy myself as having adopted a lot of British ‘style’ and an adequate skill in the art of cajoling
http://dictionary.reference.com/wordoftheday/archive/2004/11/28.html
over the last two decades, I have never taken to balancing my peas on the back of my fork or politely holding back in a discussion.

Of course, the Germans (!generalisation coming up!) like to speak KLARTEXT, something other nations might find breathtakingly brusque and blunt (they were recently voted the rudest nation in Europe) but I reckon the French (!generalisation coming up!) like a good discussion as much as the Germans and won’t shy away from controversy – they’re just a lot more charming and witty with it.

And to add a personal flavour to underline the point – it’s more than 30 years ago, when I was staying at a friend’s house in Paris, so my recollection of it is very hazy. We, my friend’s family and friends, were at a restaurant and all getting very jolly (good food, wine, company...) and political, of course. When an uncle (I think) said something about ‘les allemands’, which was funny but could at a stretch be taken as offensive (I’ve forgotten what exactly), there might have been a split second of embarrassment, sure, but then everyone laughed, because we all understood that it was a sign of acceptance that a joke like this could be made in my presence, and I distinctly remember feeling honoured that they were able to treat me as one of them.

PS: For an interesting interview on an aspect mentioned further above, namely the conscious attempt by governments to manipulate public perceptions of foreigners, see the excellent Noam Chomsky (Jewish American Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT) on ‘Collateral Language’.

http://gib.squat.net/texte/chomsky-interview.html
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